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Six pilots found to have violated rules on civilian access to bases

Six pilots found to have violated rules on civilian access to bases

Taipei, April 10 (CNA) Six Army pilots have violated regulations by bringing civilians to their bases housing Taiwan's attack helicopters without prior approval, the latest investigation by the Ministry of National Defense has found. After a comprehensive investigation, a Defense Ministry task force found that six pilots under the Army Aviation Special Forces Command brought civilians to their bases over the past two years in breach of regulations, said ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Luo Shou-he (???) at a news conference Friday. A total of 385 officers at the 601st Aviation Brigade have brought civilians to their base in Taoyuan in line with regulations on visitors, but five pilots were found to have done so without getting prior permission from their superiors, Luo said. Violators included Lt. Col. Lao Nai-cheng (???), who is at the center of the recent uproar over civilian access to Taiwan's Apache AH-64E helicopters, and Maj. Gen. Chien Tsung-yuan (???), head of the 601st Aviation Brigade, who has been removed from his post. The investigation also found that 202 officers from the Army's 602nd Aviation Brigade in Taichung followed the rules in bringing their families and relatives to their base over the past five years, but one pilot was found to have violated the regulations, Luo said. No violation of visitor regulations was found at the Army Aviation Special Forces Command's base in Tainan, Luo told reporters. "Except for Lao, the other officers were found to have only taken their family members or relatives and did not allow them to board the choppers' cockpits," Luo said, stressing that Lao's case was the most severe. The investigation covered records of visits from the past five years, but all six violations happened over the past two years, the military said. The ministry has referred the pilots to prosecutors who are trying to determine whether bringing civilians to a military base with advanced helicopters broke any laws, Luo said. Lao brought a group of people, including TV hostess Janet Lee (???) and her family and friends, to see the U.S.-made Apaches at his base in Longtan on March 29 without approval from his superiors. Some members of the group boarded an Apache and took photos of the chopper. The case came to light after Lee posted four photos of the Army base tour on her Facebook page, including one of her in the chopper's cockpit, drawing media criticism of loose security in Taiwan's military. It was also found that he had brought a group of 10 friends and relatives to the Apache hangar on Feb. 22. Though Lao violated the military's regulations on visitors to military bases, the photos taken from the Apache cockpit did not involve any classified information, Luo said, citing the confirmation of the U.S. Army, which also uses the Apache AH-64E choppers. The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the U.S.'s de facto embassy in Taiwan, also confirmed that "nothing in the photos was anything that has not been previously cleared for public release through the U.S. Army," which means "everything in the photos has been released in public before." At Friday's news conference, Luo also clarified media allegations of lax military security last December, when officers were found to have taken a photo with civilians in front of an Apache at the Taoyuan base. That photo was taken when the base was holding a family day, in which families of the officers there were invited to the base to celebrate the unveiling of a public art installation, according to Luo. Luo also denied allegations that Lt. Gen. Chen Chien-tsai (???), commander of the Army Aviation Special Forces Command, had a private reception room at the Taoyuan base to hold banquets and receptions for his friends.
Luo said Chen's room was for meetings with local government officials and councilors to discuss public affairs. Chen was removed from his post soon after the Apache scandal broke last week. (By Elaine Hou)


Updated : 2021-09-29 07:37 GMT+08:00